Roe deer, Cotswolds, England, UK

Cotswolds

Picture England in your mind’s eye and you are likely to conjure up an image of the Cotswolds with its honey-coloured houses surrounded by rolling, green hills.

The Cotswolds are the rural heartland of England where traditions are celebrated and outdoor living is in the blood. It is home to an abundance of beautiful gardens, arboretums and manor houses such as Highgrove, built in the 18th century.

There are fascinating market towns and idyllic villages where shopping at a local farmers’ market, drinking a leisurely pint in a 17th-century pub or savouring a meal in a Michelin star restaurant are not to be missed. For walkers and cyclists, the Cotswolds has an abundance of tracks, trails and country lanes that give access to some of the more bucolic and picturesque parts of the region.

Bluebells, Cotswolds, England, UK
Cotswolds, England
Chipping Campden,  Cotswolds, England, UK
England
Roe deer near Ampney Crucis, Cotswolds, England,  United Kingdom
Cotswolds, England

Why travel to the Cotswolds with Steppes

We have pulled together several guided experiences in the Cotswolds, led by members of the Steppes team or by people we know well. Like anywhere in the world, somewhere as desirable as the Cotswolds can find itself overrun with visitors at certain times of the year. It is crucial therefore to know where to go to avoid the crowds, but still enjoy a quintessential Cotswold experience. At Steppes Travel, we all live and work in the Cotswolds, so we’d like to think we can show you a side to this place we call home, that others simply do not know about.

Castle Coombe,  Cotswolds, England, UK
Castle Coombe, Cotswolds, UK
Cotswold stone houses, Cotswolds, England, UK
England
Chastleton House, Oxfordshire, Cotswolds, England, UK
Chastleton House, Oxfordshire, Cotswolds, England, UK, England
Village, Cotswolds, England, UK
Cotswolds, England

Towns, villages and festivals

Cirencester is capital of the Cotswolds and was the second biggest town after London during the Roman occupation in AD2. Over 2,000 years later, it is home to Steppes Travel’s HQ and is full of fascinating Roman history. Many of the small market towns in the Cotswolds were built on the wool trade with 12th century churches and great manor houses standing testament to the wealth that was created.

Talk to us about a walking tour around Malmesbury, Tetbury or Painswick or let us show you some of our favourite, off the tourist-trail villages. The Cotswolds are home to quirky festivals to be found all year round – the horse fair at Stow on the Wold, cheese rolling at Brockworth and the traditional woolsack race in Tetbury are great fun.

Walking the Laurie Lee Way near Painswick, Cotswolds, England,  United Kingdom
Cotswolds, UK
Footpath sign, Cotswolds, England, UK
Cotswolds, England
Walking, Cotswolds, England, UK
Cotswolds, England
Sunset at Lower Slaughter, Cotswolds, England, UK
Cotswolds, England

Cotswolds – a byword for bucolic

Nobody can describe summer days in the Cotswolds, better than Laurie Lee, a proud Cotswoldian:
‘Bees blew like cake-crumbs through the golden air, white butterflies like sugared wafers, and when it wasn’t raining a diamond dust took over which veiled and yet magnified all things.’

Let us show you some of our favourite walks, following in the footsteps of Laurie Lee and revealing parts of the Cotswolds you won’t find on other trips. Visit nature reserves in secluded dales and woodlands, discover the Five Valleys and learn about the area’s fascinating history or trek across orchid clad escarpments overlooking villages and rivers. After a day spent exploring, a pint of Stroud Brewery ale in Laurie Lee’s favourite pub, The Woolpack, is the perfect end to the day.

Experiences

Tell us what you love doing and we’ll curate a journey that’s perfect for you.

Yellow butterfly, Cotswolds, England UK

Butterfly conservation

Help with butterfly conservation and census work in the Cotswolds.

Cycling at golden hour in the Yanworth Valley, Cotswolds, England,  United Kingdom

Cycling through the Cotswolds

Take a slow cycle ride through some of the Cotswolds lesser-known villages and sites.

Sunrise on Cotswold Way near Chipping Camden, Cotswolds, England, UK

Walk the Cotswold Way

Walk the most stunning sections of the Cotswold Way – a 164-kilometre footpath that skirts along the Cotswold Edge escarpment.

Chavenage House, Cotswolds, England

Discover Cotswold manor houses

Explore fascinating manor houses, like Asthall Manor or Chavenage House.

Gardens at Cotswold houses, Cotswolds, England, UK

Explore private gardens

Discover some of the UK’s most exquisite private gardens and arboretums.

Yellow butterfly, Cotswolds, England UK

Support local rewilding projects

Visit nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries, home to local rewilding projects.

Roe deer near Ampney Crucis, Cotswolds, England,  United Kingdom

Wildlife walk

Head out in search of British wildlife, including deer, foxes, badgers and birds of prey.

Walking near Painswick, Cotswolds, England,  United Kingdom

Walk the Cotswold Way

Explore this 164-kilometre-long National Trail, which winds its way across the beautiful Cotswold Hills.

Wild garlic near Miserden, Cotswolds, England,  United Kingdom

Search for wild garlic

Explore ancient woodlands in springtime, when the wild garlic blossoms and fills the damp air with its scent

Bike and sunset

Slow cycle through the Cotswolds

Take a slow cycle tour around our favourite Cotswold villages, led by world record-breaking ultra endurance cyclist Rob Gardiner.

Where to stay

Some of the wonderful places to stay that we frequently recommended.

The Close Hotel £££££

  • Cotswolds
  • Boutique

A stone’s throw from Tetbury’s iconic Market House, the Close Hotel dates back to the 16th century, when it was constructed as a private residence. Its fantastic central location means it is within walking distance of the town’s best restaurants, as well as the famous Royal Highgrove Shop.

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The Manor House £££££

  • Cotswolds
  • Boutique

A converted 16th-century home, the Manor House exudes Cotswold charm with its traditional design and cosy atmosphere. Located in the heart of Moreton-in-Marsh, it is conveniently located for exploring the northern and central Cotswolds.

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Dormy House £££££

  • Cotswolds
  • Boutique

From the 17th century, Dormy House was a working farm whose owners cultivated the surrounding land. In the 1940s, it caught the eye of the neighbouring Broadway Golf Club who bought it and changed the name to Dormy House after their favourite golfing term, (a ‘dormy’ is an unbeatable round). In 1977, it passed to the same family that has owned it ever since. With a passion for style, service and hospitality, they have turned it into one of the area’s best-loved hotels.

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Lucknam Park Hotel £££££

  • Cotswolds
  • Boutique

Situated in 500 acres of parkland, Lucknam Park is the epitome of an English country stately home which effortlessly combines heritage and luxury. Retreat here for unspoilt country-house living at its very best. There are 42 elegant, individually styled rooms and suites and a Michelin starred Restaurant, Hywel Jones, which features local produce. For a more relaxed meal, there is also The Brasserie. What’s more, you can test your own cooking skills and master new techniques in the cookery school or just unwind and relax in the hotel’s rejuvenating spa.

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Whatley Manor £££££

  • Cotswolds
  • Boutique

Whatley Manor is a beautifully restored, 18th-century Cotswold manor house hotel and spa. The charming honey-coloured building sits in 12 acres of splendid, landscaped gardens which, inspired by the original 1920’s plans, have been divided into 26 individual areas, each exuding the timeless elegance of a traditional English country house garden.

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The Fish Hotel £££££

  • Cotswolds
  • Boutique

Legend has it that The Benedictine monks of Pershore Abbey kept and cured the abbey’s fish stocks in caves hewn into the hillside, which soon became known as ‘Fish Hill’. The monks may be long gone, but the name they left behind here lives on. Today the hillside is home to The Fish Hotel, a new kind of value-driven, back-to-nature bolt-hole with a little touch of luxury.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Paul Bird

It wasn’t part of the script, career plans were quite different but after four global trips visiting such exciting destinations, travel became a passion that eventually led to me entering the industry. The more I have travelled the greater the desire has been to see and do more.

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  • 01285 880 980

Sue Grimwood

I was inspired to travel south from an early age. My form teacher when I was nine made us listen to tapes from Shackleton’s expeditions, I didn’t know it at the time, but it obviously left a deep impression on my psyche.

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  • 01285 880 980

Clare Higginson

It was my passion for languages that first encouraged me to leave the UK behind and grab my rucksack. Since then, it’s been a mixture of intriguing cultures, jaw-dropping landscapes and the wonder of seeing animals in their natural habitat that sees me continuously extending my travel wish list.

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  • 01285 880 980

John Faithfull

My love affair with travel began in a vintage Italian train carriage at sunset on a hot and sticky September evening in 1983. Sardined into a two-bench compartment, I’d spent five hours sharing sweaty thighs, broken-Italian pleasantries and furtive glances while rattling towards Turin, stopping at every wisteria-draped village along the way.

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  • 01285 880 980

Illona Cross

Born in a small South African town, I have always followed my passion for nature and discovery. After studying Nature Conservation in Pretoria, I was one of the first women to complete a very tough cadetship in the Natal Parks Board. It was here where I cut my teeth in African wildlife management.

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  • 01285 880 980

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